Home | Comment & Analysis    Friday 6 August 2004

Unconfronted carnage

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By Clifford D. May and Cliff Schecter.

WASHINGTON, Aug 6, 2004 (The Washington Times) — We don’t agree on many things. One of us is a Republican and the other a Democrat. One believes Iraq is the front line in the War on Terrorism, the other thinks our decision to go to war there has detracted from our efforts to lay waste to Osama bin Laden’s network.

But we do have the same first name, masters’ degrees in international affairs from Columbia University, and, most importantly, we strongly agree on the need for significant action to end the carnage in Sudan’s Darfur region.

For two decades, Radical Islamist governments in Khartoum, dominated by soul mates of al Qaeda, have waged a vicious war against black Christians and animists in the south of Sudan. They have killed and enslaved tens of thousands. These atrocities held the promise of abating in May, when a cease-fire was signed between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which represented the ethnically and religiously distinct people of the south.

But while negotiations were under way to end the conflict between the north and south, representatives of the Darfur in western Sudan, a region populated mainly by black African Muslims, demanded a power- sharing agreement with the Arab-controlled Khartoum government.

The response was genocidal - there is no other word to use. According to numerous human-rights groups, the Sudanese government armed and encouraged Arab militias - known as Janjaweed - which have been committing ethnic cleansing and, Amnesty International said, using rape as "a weapon."

As many as 50,000 Africans have now been slaughtered and a million displaced. More than 2 million urgently need food or medical attention.

Black Muslim villages have been burned to the ground while, 500 yards away, Arab villages have been left untouched. Black men have been murdered and black women violated. The militias leave sentries behind to ensure those who escape do not return. This is a pattern, and it is unmistakably deliberate.

The same Sudanese government that inspires the mass murder of innocent civilians also maintains close links with international terrorism. From 1991-1996, Osama bin Laden called Sudan home. And President Bill Clinton, largely in response to the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, used cruise missiles to destroy what intelligence analysts believed to be a chemical weapons facility in Khartoum.

A few world leaders have understood it is crucial that we act - British Prime Minister Tony Blair chief among them.

The European Union has now joined the United States in calling for sanctions against the Sudanese government if it does not stop enabling the Janjaweed.

But the United Nations has yet to take any meaningful action to stop the killings. Last week, the Security Council passed a resolution 13-0 that warned of "unspecified punitive action" if the Khartoum government fails to rein in the militias and bring security and humanitarian aid to the Darfur region within 30 days. Somehow, it is hard to believe this U.N. "threat" of taking a month to mull over a specific punitive action - while slaughter of the Darfur children continues - has Sudanese terrorist masters shaking in their shoes.

Furthermore, without independent monitors and a security force strong enough to protect the black African population, Sudanese government officials can easily claim to be doing all they can to prevent the violence - while secretly continuing to support the murderous militias.

France, a member of the U.N. Security Council, remains blase about this tragedy - even though France has troops and equipment both in neighboring Chad and nearby Djibouti.

Finally, it is high time for groups such as the Arab League and Islamic Conference to either act or to be publicly condemned by the international community for their indifference to barbarism and genocide - even, apparently, when that barbarism and genocide is directed toward fellow Muslims.

There is little cause for optimism: The Arab League recently warned the United Nations against "slapping hasty sanctions on Sudan." Both groups know full well the real danger is the killing will be ignored until the genocide and ethnic cleansing irreparably damage the indigenous people of Darfur.

The international community has turned a blind eye to past mass murders in Cambodia, Rwanda, Iraq, Syria and the Balkans. Doing so again would be an outrageous dereliction of moral duty.

Democrats and Republicans may disagree on aspects of the war on terror. But on this front, there should be unity. Americans and Europeans, Muslims, Christians and Jews, Africans and Arabs - all have a clear moral obligation to take serious steps to end the terrorist war against the people of Darfur.

Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.

Cliff Schecter is a political analyst for the Sinclair Broadcast Group and a contributing writer to Gadflyer Magazine.



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